bwiuBS Building Diversity Among the Netroots
Just a short diary today... Cross-posted at DKos
If there's one thing we have all learned over the last two years, it is that the Republican Party has imploded due to its breath-taking lack of diversity. This should serve as a warning. We are vibrant as a movement because we include participants from every ethnic, socio-economic and geographic category, even Hawaii. We dialogue about our experience, even when our experience differs. Legitimacy always flows from the bottom up.
Unfortunately, diversity fell victim to the recession at this year's NN. We must organize to insure that next year's conference is the most diverse NN ever!
I am glad that the powers that be have decided to host NN10 in Las Vegas even though I dislike everything that city stands for, especially gambling, and have never wished to visit. It is important that we choose an accessible venue with inexpensive airfare and hotel rates, to ensure that we do not allow ourselves to become a "wealthy whites only" movement. It is important that we remain focused on sharing our individual experience, rather than devolving into a gathering focused on the tools of discourse.
Twitter, cell phones, html and videography are a means to an end. They help us to build community by sharing stories. This year at NN, the stories of people of color and rural dwellers were far too scarce. We need to continually reach out to and include folks who may not have access to broadband, cell phones and twitter. Far too many of these people exist in America today. (No, I am not advocating their elimination through death panels...) Their voices must be heard.
Don't get me wrong. This was my best NN ever! I thought Mary, Raven, Nathan et al did a wonderful job pulling it together. The reduced budget caused by the recession did not allow for stipends. Nobody predicted this unforseen event. And while I adored Pittsburgh as a venue, it was expensive. We found it difficult to attract panelists for the "Challenges of Organizing in Rural Communities" panel. I wonder how many panels were not proposed because panelists could not afford to come?
Let's be proactive next year. Let's find ways, in addition to the DFA scholarships, to raise funds for stipends in order to increase the diversity of our panels. On Sunday evening, we held our first ever annual meeting of the Blog Workers Industrial Union & Benevolent Society (bwiuBS). We adopted a platform, elected Chacounne secretary, and drafted Ben Masel to run for Wisconsin Governor.
At the suggestion of Jaxdem, we are considering selling tee shirts to finance scholarships for NN10 volunteers. Why don't we think about selling bwiuBS tee shirts to finance stipends for speakers who would otherwise not be able to present as well?
FYI, it is dangerous not to attend a meeting of the bwiuBS or to fall asleep while one is being held. Blue Jersey Mom and noweasels were nominated to run the Benevolent Society in their absence. And Stranded Wind posted a lovely photo of Chacounne sleeping through her election as union secretary.
In one of the panels I attended, a rather well known blogger stated that editorials should not be used for organizing purposes or to influence public opinion because "newspapers are outmoded." Many elderly people, minorities and rural dwellers do not have access to cell phones, twitter and blogs. Where would the health care debate be today if we relied only on our preferred means of communication? How could we win this battle if we ignored senior citizens, people of color and rural Americans?
Please feel more than free to post your ideas about fundraising for stipends, or other ways to increase the diversity of NN10 in the comment thread below.